The Green Curriculum in Waldorf Schools ~ Part X October 23 2015

Waldorf Schools strive to co-exist in a profoundly felt, right relationship with the Earth throughout the grades, building inner habits that prepare children to be environmentalists on the deepest levels. The practices and experiences which engender these inner habits are embedded in all aspects of the Waldorf School curriculum from grade one to grade twelve. Over twelve weeks, we are exploring and highlighting some of the elements and ways in which environmental sustainability lives and breathes through each grade of the Waldorf curriculum. Below, we continue with Grade Ten!

From Roots to Bloom: Green in Grade Ten

By grade ten the students’ have a turning to capacities for intellectual pursuits, and for self-knowledge, invite questions of evolution and transformation. Childhood fades completely and students begin to step up and out of the confines of their previous youthful modes of perceiving, through tensions and polarities, towards experiences of inner and outer balance. A process-orientation echoes through the tenth grade Waldorf curriculum in support of this delicate transition. Their development toward greater wholeness and equilibrium is nurtured by opportunities for contextual and relational thinking, feeling and doing.

The students become much closer and incline towards questions of “how” something happens. They are keen to discover the process, which enables particular events to unfold in history, in the world of natural science, in language and art. How is a thunderstorm produced? How does blood move through the body? How do masculine and feminine influences work together in embryology? How does a culture develop and thrive? And how do human beings have the capacity to think about such questions? The study of the height of Greek civilization exemplifies harmonious balance in form and function, from art to architecture, music to philosophy. Exploration into the evolution of the English language unfurl the beauty and mysteries of linguistics, creating a more conscious, meaningful relationship to this familiar tongue.

Waldorf Main Lesson Book - Weather Patterns

In the sciences, the students tackle the mechanics of falling objects, the strength and reach of bridges, as they contemplate the roles of velocity, distance and other contributors to the “how” of the way things work. Through observation and discussion, the tenth graders come to understand the processes and relational nature of bodily processes, of weather patterns, of chemical compounds. In mathematics, the students explore and master the how of trigonometry proofs, and the powerful role of laws and formulas.

Rigorous inquiry into these and other subjects prompts central philosophical questions about the natural world and about humanity, about our influence on and responsibility for the environment, and for our fellow human beings. Through the tenth grade curriculum, the students develop a deep sense for lawfulness and balance in our world, the wonder it draws, and the illness which imbalance produces. Through the agency imbued by this experience-based education, students are increasingly self-reliant, and develop their own faculties of perception through which to see the world, to think new thoughts, and to imagine and expect that a future of greater health and balance for humanity and for mother nature is possible. In this way, Waldorf curriculum and pedagogy plant seeds of possibility for tomorrow’s leaders to act creatively, freely and thoughtfully.

~ Sarah Hearn